The dining room at Cascina Rosengana

BDM (Before Dello Mano) – Italian Trip

We’ve been looking through old photo albums lately, reliving all the twists and turns of the journey that led us to Dello Mano. One of the most memorable moments of this journey was the 2006 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto (Mother Earth Salon of Taste) exhibition, a biennial festival organised by the Slow Food Movement in Turin. We’ve long been fervent adherents of Slow Food, so we knew we had to make the pilgrimage during our trip to Italy — but we didn’t realise just how major a role it would play in our Dello Mano destiny.

Front of the Dello Mano Brownie Store
Dello Mano  and our first real retail store – closed Feb 2017

For us, the highlight of the exhibition was the Market, a kind of food hall in which the Terra Madre delegates display the heirloom products of their homelands. Imagine all the gastronomical variety the world contains compressed into a small convention center, the pure sensory overload of a bustling wet market in a foreign land combined with the globalist idealism and of a UN assembly. Over four thousand delegates attended, together representing more than three-quarters of the countries of the world. Each had something unique to share.

A world of Food at the Slow Food Salone del Gusto

There was salted millet couscous from Senegal, fried river weed from Laos, even fresh yak’s milk cheese from Nepal. As delicious as the products were, not many were likely to appear alongside chicken fingers and chips on your typical children’s menu. Indeed, children were an infrequent sight among the crowds at the Terra Madre; perhaps that’s why our daughters, then six and eight, attracted so much attention. Benvenuto! the delegates called in Italian. Karibu! in Swahili. They invited our family into their stalls and offered our daughters a smorgasbord of novel delights. Our daughters, blissfully unpicky, accepted everything. We watched their eyes light up at each bite and knew that they had inherited our adoration of food. Some flavors from that day would linger in their minds long after they left their tongues. Phoebe still speaks of a certain rigatoni al manzo, served by a 300-year-old cafe out of a skillet that looked nearly as old, that she claims was the best iteration of macaroni and beef the world can possibly conceive.

Girls eating food from all around the world at the Slow Food convention
The girls eating food from all around the world at the Slow Food Convention.

Even after the Salone Del Gusto drew to a close, we continued our culinary explorations across Turin. Phoebe and Coco particularly enjoyed the gelati; it seemed as though we would buy them each a towering cone at least once daily.  When you get the chance to eat real Italian gelati, you don’t let it pass, even if that opportunity appears multiple times a day.

Phoebe and Coco enjoying Gelato in Italy
The beginning of a love affair with Gelati

After leaving Turin, we spent our remaining weeks in Italy exploring the rolling landscape of the Piedmont region until we reached the tiny, hilltop comune of Cocconato. The ancient town is known for producing excellent milk and cream, the rich complexity of its flavor intensified when made into soft robiola cheese. We stayed in a bed and breakfast called  “Cascina Rosengana ” which comprised of a handful of cozy terraces clustered around a grand old house made of the same warm materials of mixed stone.  The B&B was part of the Agriturismo experience in Italy – a program designed to allow visitors to stay on farms or in the Italian countryside.

Every morning, we walked a tree-lined path to the main house, where we breakfasted in the renovated dining room.

the gorgeous stone pathway at Cascina Rosengana, Cocconato Italy
Agriturismo Cascina Rosengana – photo courtesy of

The food, all handmade with local ingredients, was among the best we had in Italy. There was fresh-baked bread, eggs so rich they seemed shot through with sunshine, and pats of homemade butter each stamped with a pretty seal.

The dining room at Cascina Rosengana
The glorious stone dining room at Cascina Rosengana – image courtesy of
Our terrace door was kept warm by the resident cat

We were relaxing in our terrace one evening when we decided to hold an impromptu business meeting. These “business meetings” of ours were rarely more than dream-building sessions, but this time there was something more solid about the plans we discussed, reinforced by the experiences of the previous weeks. When we adjourned for dinner, Phoebe got up from her corner and presented us with a page from her little notebook. “I have taken notes on the meeting,” she said, doing her best to modulate her eight-year-old voice to a businesslike octave. The page was full of neat color-pencil notes documenting what she’d gleaned from the grown-ups’ conversation. It was a remarkably complete report, albeit not perfectly spelled. At that moment, we knew that this dream had ingrained itself in the family for good. We had no choice but to start the business.

Dello Mano family dedicated to food taking notes
Always working – always dedication – taking notes across Italy:)

A few weeks later, we were back in Brisbane, making the first real strides towards starting Dello Mano. Phoebe’s meeting notes helped us stay on track through those early stages, and both our daughters remain deeply involved in every facet of the business. Although they are both now busy adults, they continue to take time out of their schedules to embark on culinary adventures with us. We’d like to share some edible memories of those adventures with you — panforte from Italy, for example, and savoury tarts from France — here at Dello Mano. We’re sure you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.

Dello Mano makes handmade gorgeous food products including our famous Luxury Brownies. Buy online or visit one of our Brisbane stores.

Brisbane CBD Tattersalls Arcade, 215 Queen St. Brisbane

New Farm, Merthyr Village, 83 Merthyr Road Brisbane

See our website for store trading hours – we’re open 7 days per week. 

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